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How They Grow in Eighth Grade

What to Expect
As a parent of a newly-minted 13-year-old, you're probably wondering what to expect in the next couple of years.

One-word answers and rude behavior? Huge collections of music, posters and make-up?

Growing teens are a big bundle of hormones, mood swings, and bodily changes. Read on to find out what changes to expect in your 13-year-old, so you can be prepared as your child enters his teen years.

Physical Changes
Although the age that a child enters puberty varies greatly, most children have already started maturing by the time they reach this age. You've probably noticed many physical changes in your child already, but don't be surprised to notice a few more this year,including:

  • High energy levels.
  • Emerging skin problems, such as acne. Good personal hygiene is a key issue.
  • Most girls reach 95 percent of their mature height, and menstruation has begun for most.
  • Voice change in boys. A growth spurt may occur butusually doesn't happen for another year in males.

Social patterns
What happened to your happy, out-going child? You can thank his hormones for the sudden shift to moodiness. Your teen's behavior can be challenging at this time in his life. Some changes will include:

  • A need to keep a neat appearance. Looks are extremely important to your child at this time.
  • A quiet demeanor. Kids this age are usually quieter than kids a year older or younger.
  • The need to be left alone, especially at home.
  • Sensitivity. You might notice your child's feelings are easily hurt. Beware— teens this age can easily hurt others feelings, too.
  • Close friendships— this is often more important to girls.
  • Boys hang out in groups.
  • Girls will express an interest in older boys.
  • A strong interest in sports.
  • Preoccupation with television, computers, and video games.
  • Music might start to have a big influence.
  • Peer pressure increases, and your teen might be influenced on his clothing choices, musical tastes, and how he speaks in an effort to be "cool."
  • Worrying about schoolwork.
  • An off-beat sense of humor highlighted by sarcasm.
  • Collecting jewelry, make-up, music.
  • Becoming very aware of body image. The mirror might become your child's best friend and worst enemy. While this is normal, be on the lookout for any dangerous or obsessive behaviors.

Language
Is talking to your child like pulling teeth these days? Don't worry— that's normal. Typical behaviors regarding language at this age include:

  • Giving one word answers to questions.
  • Using street language to impress and fit in with peers.
  • Speaking loudly and using extreme language.
  • Rudeness

Cognitive Changes
Finally, you might be wondering what, exactly, is going on in your teen's head. Although it may seem he's living in his own little world, there's an explanation for the way he thinks and acts.

  • An eighth-grader's withdrawn nature protects his developing self-concept and any intellectual ideas that might not yet be fully formed.
  • Abstract reasoning and "formal operations" will begin to come into play.
  • Although your teen might take a tentative approach to difficult intellectual tasks, he won't be willing to take big risks when learning.
  • Thirteen-year-old like to challenge intellectual and social authority.
The teen years will offer many bumpy roads, but they are also an incredible time for your child's development. The next time you are having a hard time understanding your child's behavior, just know this stage in your child's life is essential to his growth.
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